Monday, March 12, 2012

Obedience, Yes: Blind Obedience, No

I've said this before:

The opinions of 'serious thinkers' notwithstanding, the Catholic Church doesn't teach blind obedience. We're expected to obey those in authority over us - as long as what we're told to do isn't immoral. Sounds groovy, except that there are - what else? - rules about what we can and can't decide to not do for 'moral' reasons:
"The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.'48 'We must obey God rather than men':49
"When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel.50"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2242)
Looks like "I was only following orders" may not cut it at the particular judgment. ("Particular judgment?" I've mentioned that before. (August 8, 2010) Can't say I'm looking forward to it.)
(from "Citizenship, Rules, Marriage, and Not Being Decently Quiet" (March 5, 2011))

Love, Government, and Getting a Grip

I've said this before, too. The rules are, at their core, simple:
That 'love God, love your neighbor' thing means that I can't do anything I want. Sometimes that's inconvenient.

Folks keep trying to find ways to weasel out of those simple rules. I think that's a major reason for the Catholic Church taking the trouble to explain - in detail:
  • What 'loving your neighbor' means
    • Why it's a good idea
  • Who your neighbor is
  • What constitutes 'hating your neighbor'
    • Why it's a bad idea
After two millennia of weaseling and clarification, there's been quite a bit written about putting 'love God, love your neighbor' into practice. Here's part of what the Church has to say, about:
  • Government
    • "Every human community needs an authority
      to govern it"
      (Catechism, 1898)
    • This authority
      • "Must not behave in a despotic manner"
      • "Must act for the common good as a"-
        • Moral force based on
          • Freedom and
          • A sense of responsibility
      (Catechism, 1902)
    • "Authority is exercised legitimately only"-
      • When it seeks the common good of the group concerned and
      • If it employs morally licit means to attain it
      (Catechism, 1903)
    • "If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience"
      • "In such a case, 'authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.' "
      (Catechism, 1903)
  • The governed
    • "Citizens should take an active part in public life"
      (Catechism, 1915)
    • Citizens have duties
      • "To contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom"
        (Catechism, 2239)
      • "Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to"
        • Pay taxes
        • Exercise the right to vote
        • Defend one's country
        (Catechism, 2240)
      (Catechism, 2238-2243, 2255)
"The common good" shows up a lot in that list. It means that I can't think only of myself. It doesn't mean that everybody's supposed to be like me. Individuals are important, and so is letting each of us progress as individuals. It demands respect for the person, and more. (Catechism, 1905-1912)

One more thing: America has a presidential election scheduled in November of this year. American voters have an obligation to vote. (Catechism, 2240) Vote responsibly, and that's another topic.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.